Funded by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, the Ulster County Safe Harbour program seeks to raise public awareness and educate human services and law enforcement professionals about the exploitation and trafficking of youth for both sex and labor. Our ultimate goal is to identify, respond to, and empower at-risk and trafficked youth with trauma-informed rehabilitative services including food, clothing, shelter, medical care, crisis intervention, educational and vocational counseling, and legal services. In addition to providing services to youth, the Safe Harbour program has developed a robust Outreach and Prevention Education program. Please see the "Contacts and Services" tab for more information.
“The signing into law of the New York State Safe Harbour for Exploited Children Act in 2008 was a pivotal moment in protecting and securing services for sexually exploited youth. Prior to the Act’s passage, sexually exploited youth involved in illegal activities did not receive the protection of the Family Court and were instead prosecuted criminally, which did little more than to re-traumatize these victims. Furthermore, once incarcerated, sexually exploited youth had no access to services that could address their specific social and emotional needs, and thus they often would return to a life on the streets once released. The passage of the Act guaranteed that sexually exploited youth would be treated as child victims and be offered services that could pave the way for better outcomes.” (NYS Office of Children and Family Services)
The Safe Harbour For Exploited Children Act (2008) defines a sexually exploited child as any person less than 18 years of age who has been subject to sexual exploitation as a result of their loitering for the purposes of prostitution or their engagement in an offer to exchange sexual conduct in return for food, clothing, a place to stay, drugs, or a fee.
*This law was created to protect sexually exploited children from being charged with a juvenile delinquent (JD) offense in appropriate cases.
Forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children can include images of sexual abuse (pornography), exotic dance or performance, cyber-enticement, sex tourism, and domestic minor sex trafficking.
While all youth are vulnerable to trafficking, high-risk populations include:
- Youth who have had interactions with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems
- Youth with a history of physical/sexual abuse
- Homeless/impoverished, runaway, throwaway youth (runaways who are never reported as missing)
- LGBTQ Youth
- Unaccompanied Minors
- Youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities
NYS Definition for Labor Trafficking
Compelling or inducing another to engage in labor, or recruiting, enticing, harboring or transporting another by providing drugs, withholding or destroying government documents, debt servicing, force, or a plan or pattern of coercive conduct.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. To learn how the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is combating this horrible crime visit: http://www.missingkids.org/theissues/cse/cstt